U of A Ranks 20th in Nation in Newsweek Survey of Online Students

More than 440 U of A students graduated in May 2022 after studying in online degree programs. Pictured above are five of those graduates (left to right): Alexandra Lemp, Jacob Qualls, Anginay Jones, Austin Kersey and Leanita Pelts.
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More than 440 U of A students graduated in May 2022 after studying in online degree programs. Pictured above are five of those graduates (left to right): Alexandra Lemp, Jacob Qualls, Anginay Jones, Austin Kersey and Leanita Pelts.

The U of A ranked 20th in the nation and earned a five-star rating in Newsweek’s 2022 student-focused ranking of colleges and universities that offer degree programs online. 

Newsweek and Statistica, a market and consumer data company, ranked 200 institutions in November 2022 based on student surveys and institutional indicators. Feedback from online learners accounted for 80 percent of the ranking and 20 percent for institutional indicators, including graduation data and reenrollment rates.  

Online undergraduate and graduate students evaluated their institutions by rating their overall experience, overall satisfaction and to what extent they would recommend their institutions, according to the methodology listed on Newsweek’s website. 

The U of A ranked higher than Arizona State University Online at 47, Penn State World Campus at 136 and Purdue University Global at 195 in Newsweek’s “America’s Top Online Colleges 2023” ranking. 

“The University of Arkansas invests in the success of its students, whether they study online or on campus,” said Cheryl Murphy, vice provost for distance education. “Our online students gave the U of A high marks in this survey, indicating that they value the U of A’s dedication to academic excellence and quality student support.” 

The U of A offers 86 online degree programs and certificate and licensure plans, which are showcased on the U of A ONLINE website. These include bachelor’s, master’s, specialist’s and doctoral degree programs from six academic colleges: the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences; the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences; the Sam M. Walton College of Business; the College of Education and Health Professions; the College of Engineering; and the School of Law. 

This was the second year Newsweek published the “America’s Top Online Colleges” rankings. Last year, the U of A ranked 11th among 150 institutions, which was 50 fewer than were ranked this year. In the inaugural year, Newsweek weighted the survey of students at 70 percent with institutional indicators making up the remaining 30 percent of the score weight. 

Distance Learning Nationally 

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Datasystem, also known as IPEDS, does not separate online learning from distance learning, which is defined as education that uses technology to deliver instruction to students who are separated from the instructor, according to a National Center for Educational Statistics blog

Among public higher education, about 96 percent of all four-year institutions offered either distance education courses or degree programs in academic year 2018-2019. 

In academic year 2020-21, more than 14 million students studied at a distance, with more than 8.6 million enrolled exclusively in distance education courses, according to a data table provided by the National Center for Educational Statistics. 

One Survey, Two Ranking Lists 

Statista, in partnership with Newsweek, surveyed more than 9,000 online learners across the nation between June 20 and Aug. 29, according to Newsweek. 

Survey participants rated their experience, their satisfaction and to what degree they would recommend their institutions with score weights of 50 percent, 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively, according to the methodology. The remaining 20 percent of the score weight was based on institutional indicators: graduation statistics, reenrollment rate, students per instructor and expenditures per student. 

Researchers gathered institutional indicators from public sources, including the National Center for Education Statistics and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. 

Statista divided findings into two ranking groups, based on institution type. The first group, “America’s Top Online Colleges,” ranked 200 colleges and universities, including the U of A, that offer online and hybrid degree programs. Hybrid programs use both online and in-person learning environments. The second group, “America’s Top Online Learning Providers,” include 32 institutions that are not colleges or universities.  

Institutions with a final score value above the median score of all 200 institutions were given five-star ratings. 

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.  

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